Welcoming the Return of Vicki Stittleburg – Houston Audubon’s Part-Time Environmental Educator!

A native of western Pennsylvania, Vicki Stittleburg moved to Texas after graduating from Westminster College with a degree in Biology. Initially planning on staying for only 1 year, Vicki has now lived in Texas for almost 2 decades and has no plans to leave the great state. Vicki worked with Mary Anne Morris at what is now the Raptor and Education Center for 9 years and left her position when her son Barrett was born in 2016. Barrett recently enrolled in kindergarten and Vicki accepted a part time position in the Education Department. She is thrilled to be back on staff and is honored to office out of Edith’s historic log home at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.

Vicki answered some questions for everyone to get to know her better!

1. What is it like being back on staff after being away for 6 years?

It’s truly been a homecoming. It’s been fun to reunite with familiar staff members and volunteers and I’m enjoying getting to know the new faces of the organization. Houston Audubon’s mission is the same and I’m eager to start sharing my passion for native wildlife with early learners and with visitors to the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.

2. Why is your office unique?

My desk is located in the historic Moore log home. I’ve enjoyed learning about the history of the site and have become enamored with Edith L. Moore. I’m excited to continue gathering information that will be used to create a display in the main room of the home that will tell Edith’s story and the history of Houston Audubon. The views out the windows are spectacular. It’s amazing to look outside and see Cardinals, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Wrens, Hummingbirds, Squirrels, Rabbits and Armadillos!

3. Why are you passionate about teaching young learners?

Preschool children possess a sense of wonder for the natural world that is easy to tap into. I love watching their faces light up when they learn a fun fact about a creature or when they observe animals in the wild. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious and I think we could all benefit by viewing nature through their eyes from time to time. I can’t wait to meet the Fledgling Friends and teach them about the amazing native animals that call the Edith L. Moore Sanctuary home.

4. What brought you to Houston?

I moved to Texas in the fall of 2003 to become a zookeeper at the Houston Zoo. I was part of an amazing team that worked in the Natural Encounters building and got to work with a wide variety of animals. One of the great joys of my life was getting to be a ‘meerkat mom’ to a mob of meerkats.

5. Do you have a favorite bird?

It’s hard to pick just one! I used to participate in Houston Audubon’s Chimney Swift counts and Swift Night Out events and have developed an affinity for the chatter of overhead swifts. To me, Chimney Swifts are incredible creatures because of their annual migration and their ability to adapt to nesting in manmade structures. I love watching them soar through the sky. They are definitely one of my favorite birds.

6. What are your hobbies?

I love to read and have created a cozy nook in my bedroom with a large round chair that I refer to as my nest. When I’m not snuggled up with a book in my nest, I enjoy exploring outside, gardening, baking and painting. Lately I’ve been painting bird faces onto wood slices.

7. What is your favorite mammal?

I love North American River Otters! During my time at the Houston Zoo, I received a grant to study River Otters in Texas. I maintained a remote camera that monitored wildlife activity at a site near the Trinity River. To this day, I have only observed River Otters on the images from the camera and am eager to see one in the wild. Since North American River Otters are an indicator species and their presence is a sign of a healthy ecosystem, I was excited to learn that River Otters have been observed in Rummel Creek.

8. Where is your favorite place to explore nature in or around the Houston area?

Brazos Bend State Park is one of my most favorite places.  It’s less than an hour away from my house, but every time I visit I feel like I’ve been transported to a wild place much farther away. There’s always tons of birds and I enjoy counting the alligators I encounter. It’s a must visit place when I’m hosting out of town guests.

9. Does your family share your passion for the outdoors?

My husband Tyson and my son Barrett both enjoy being outside and we’ve done lots of nature walks together. Tyson is the General Manager of a golf course facility and has been teaching Barrett to golf. I’m not a golfer, but I occasionally tag along on the course with the two of them. Instead of clubs, I bring my binoculars as golf courses are a great place to spot birds.

10. Where would you most like to visit?

My list of potential travel destinations is extensive! I’d love to explore more of the State Parks in Texas including Caddo Lake, Caprock Canyons, and Palo Duro Canyon. I’d also like to get to as many National Parks as possible. I’ve been to Acadia and Mt. Rainier, but there are several that I am eager to visit.

Be sure to say hi to Vicki at a Houston Audubon program or on your next visit to Edith Moore!

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